What If Allen Hadn't Made Game-Tying Heave?

What If Allen Hadn't Made Game-Tying Heave?

Somewhere, LeBron James is wringing the champagne out of his T-shirt, bathed in the adoration of the nation, which declares him the greatest living basketball player, an improvement on Michael Jordan, Gandhi and possibly Alexander the Great.

 

But let's play "Let's Say" for just one tick of the clock, shall we?

 

Let's Say ... that James' teammate, Ray Allen, doesn't drain that death-defying, Game 6-tying, desperation 25-foot heave from the corner with five seconds left while the world unravels around him.

 

Then ... everything changes. Then ... NBA history changes. Then ... it's Tim Duncan whose hamper smells like champagne this morning. Then ... it's Tony Parker with a cigar in his mouth and three rings on his dresser. Which means ... it's LeBron James being mounted and pinned like a butterfly by the sports world, which uses a magnifying glass to figure out why he's such a choking dog.

 

Just like that.

 

Fair or not, the legacies of athletes -- unlike politicians or artists or musicians -- flit and spin in the wind, like a canary feather. They turn in the tiniest breeze, twist on the simplest decision, float on a teaspoonful of luck. And yet when that feather finally lands, it lands with a thud that echoes forever.

 

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